A UK Coal worker who was badly injured in a car crash at work and went on to develop a chronic condition which means he can no longer work has received more than £419,000 in compensation.

The 36-year-old from Newthorpe is in constant pain in his right shoulder and arm since the accident in 2007 when a colleague crashed the UK Coal van they were travelling in into a tree.

His claim for damages, supported by trade union Unite the Union and Thompsons Solicitors, comes as the HSE estimates that a third of car accidents involve someone who is at work at the time, with 250 serious injuries and 20 fatalities every week.

After his accident the mechanical engineer needed three operations on his shoulder and a further three operations to fit a spinal cord simulator in an effort to control his pain. Whilst the simulator has helped reduce pain in his arm he still must take a cocktail of painkillers every day to control the pain in the shoulder.

Swerved and crashed into a tree

On the day of the accident he and his colleague were travelling to a job. His colleague swerved to avoid wildlife in the road and crashed into the tree.

The member was wearing a seat belt and a hard hat but the impact of the accident initially left him with pain and restricted movement in his neck and right shoulder. He was told by paramedics at the scene that he was likely to be suffering from whiplash.

His GP signed him off work for three weeks after which he went back to work and attempted to work through the pain in his shoulder. Over the coming weeks the pain became worse and he began to suffer from numbness in his hand.

He underwent investigative surgery but as a result developed septic arthritis which worsened the problems with his shoulder. Further procedures to surgically manipulate his shoulder failed and he was diagnosed with Chronic Pain Syndrome.

He had to take six months off work and eventually returned on light duties for a month before being made redundant.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

The member has now had to accept he may never return to work. On a normal day the pain is so bad he’s unable to drive, use a pen or even get out of bed without help. He can no longer do chores around the house, the gardening or play with his children.

Following the accident Unite instructed Thompsons to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that UK Coal should have better managed the risks associated with staff driving work vehicles. UK Coal admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

The member said: “This accident has affected everything about my life. I can’t work, do the gardening or help out around the house. I feel incredibly frustrated and scared about the future. I know I’ll never be able to work in heavy industry again and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get the pain under control so that I can retrain in another area.

“This compensation helps immensely. I have a young family to look after and without being able to earn I was extremely worried about our financial future.”

Compensation will allow him some financial breathing space

Gerard Coyne from Unite the Union added: “This member has been through a horrendous time since this accident. His chronic condition means he faces an uncertain future in terms of employment and we are pleased we have been able to support him in his claim for damages. This compensation will allow him some financial breathing space which will no doubt be of great relief.”

Allison Fitchett from Thompsons Solicitors added: ”The Health and Safety Executive makes it clear that health and safety law applies to on the road work activities and the risks should be effectively managed. With more than 250 serious injuries caused by accidents involving work vehicles employers must make sure they are on top of this piece of legislation.

“This accident has left a hard working member of staff in constant pain and unable to work. His life has been turned upside down through no fault of his own and it is only just that he is compensated for his injuries.”